What Pinoy Boy Has Been Up To

This is really weird. Writing again now seems like writing for Pinoy Boy Journals for the very first time. I have been postponing my return here because i feel i wasn't ready yet to share with you all my musings. I've been busy with too many things. 

Gladly, it has not been a rough few months, err years for me, nor has it been troublesome in any situation you could think of. Practically speaking, there's nothing wrong with my life. And i feel so blessed to be able to do the things i want to do, buy stuff i've long wanted, and of course travel to places i want to go to. As cliche as it may sound, I've been ticking that bucket list. But there's more to life, really. 

Over the past few months, my itchy feet has lead me to go back to South Korea and Japan, two countries which i will never get tired of going. For one, i love the weather during spring and autumn. I like the crisp cool air of my mornings with a hot cup of cocoa in one hand. It has been almost 2 years since i last smoked a cigarette. And for me, it's one of my greatest achievements. So, enjoying the cool breeze without a ciggie is quite a statement. And my good friend Jihoon has been the best host roaming around Seoul and beyond with me. He's now in South America, as of this writing, fulfilling his lifelong fantasy of circumnavigating the Andes. Awesome!

Most recently also, through the thoughtfulness and generosity of my blogger friends, i was tagged along on a trip to India, a country i have almost forgotten. It has been almost 7 years since i've been to this unbelievably fascinating country. 7 years ago, i traveled around Delhi, Agra, Varanasi and Jaipur. 

A few weeks ago, i flew down south to Kerala and had a grand time with my friends. Kerala is exotic, and the people are really friendly. Somehow, the seaside vibe makes everyone here totally relaxed. Of course, i won't go into detail about the curfew. That's another story altogether.

If you've been reading this blog, you know that i always travel solo. It has been my signature style of traveling. But as years pass by, i realize how it's also nice to travel with the people you share a common interest with, aside from your family. It's quite challenging at first for solo travelers, but in a nutshell, it's an eye-opener. There's more to it, really.

I've read countless number of stories about the author apologizing for the lack of blog posts, and promising to write more. I don't want to promise anything. I'll just keep things simple. This blog will never go away. I will always pay the annual fee for this domain to immortalize all my journeys around the Philippines and beyond. It may not always be updated, but at least it's existing. And whenever i feel like it, i will write. I don't want to be a successful online personality that's overworked and uninspired. 

This is my world. And this is how i choose to see it. Travel with me. This is Pinoy Boy Journals. 

Top Ten Most Unforgettable Travel Adventures in Cambodia

I hope this may spark your curiosity even more to visit this awesome country on your next backpacking trip around South East Asia. I hope in the coming years the country will prosper as a nation, a feat it truly deserves. But on the other hand, i hope westernization will not kill the rich culture of this truly great nation.

I always wear this. A comfortable printed long-sleeves top, slouchy pants cropped and flip flops. Just right outside the central market in PP.
Yes. I think we have the same shirt over. See what i tell you. I look like and dress up like all the Khmer men. Nice!

 1. I look like everbody.
How can you forget a trip to a foreign country where you look and act almost the same as everyone else. I've never been more home as i always say. We, Asians, have a unique cultural look that's exotic, honest and innocent and very young both in appearance and by heart.

If you're still not convinced. I with my friends made a prank. I sat on one of those tuk-tuks and signaled a tuk-tuk ride to all the farangs walking along pub street. See what happened. Here...

Trying to brave the steep stairs of the Angkor Wat. Yes i walked side ways.
Admiring the beauty of this great temple.

2. Going to the Angkor wat
It's not everyday that you walk around "history". The sights, the sounds, the ambiance. It's like walking in the heart of history. Very nice, indeed. I've been amazed by a couple of structures everywhere from Pudong Skyline to the magnificent architectures of hotel casinos in Macau and the unique structures of Kuala Lumpur but visiting the Angkor Wat is unmistakably one of my greatest trips ever. It wouldn't be listed as one of the top places to see before you die for thing.

The best travel buddies, Cara and MM drinking free buckets in Angkor Wat bar, Pub street.

3. The joys and mistakes of traveling
On one of our drinking nights in Siem Reap, a couple of tourists were obviously drunk and were dancing on top of the tables. A six footer lost his balance and fell on my petite friend. Obviously hurt and disappointed, the guy was miserable after. All you can do is charge it to experience. Off we go to party some more. On one of our walks along pub street a couple of young blokes were smoking marijuana. I have no idea regarding the policies, but you don't need those rules to follow one thing whenever you're traveling around... RESPECT

The bus ride inside the Mekong Express Limousine bus. Free snack, hand wipes, and free Khmer music for six hours. Can you handle it? 
Hours to go before i reach my destination. Sunburnt and tired. I need a bed and Angkor beer!

4. Bus rides
I've never been to more bus rides anywhere than my almost month trip around Cambodia. Bus from Saigon to Phnom Penh. Bus from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap. Bus from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh. Bus from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville. Bus from Sihanoukville to Phnom Penh. And finally Bus from Sihanoukville to Saigon. Wheeeew. Too many bus rides after, i was beginning to make them buses my second home. But believe me when i tell you this, the seats are really comfortable, the driver was driving pretty cool and the air con was max. After a couple of excuses, i always get two seats free.

Arrived at night in Sihanoukville, no other better way to tour the province but that on a speeding motorbike.
Here i am taking a video while the motor is scooting away.

5. Motor rides
Everywhere i go in Phnom Penh, me and my buddy would always scoot around his motor bike in heaps of places. Thanks to Adam for the free ride around the city. For breakfast, for lunch, for dinner, for chilling' at a nightclub, for a private housewarming party, for an afternoon happy hour at the ghetto district. Drunk and motor rides. Cool. But be really cool, you don't want accidents on your trips.

Angkor? Anchor? What's the difference anyway?
You can get cheaper beer via draft and sharing. $.70 cents.

6. Angkor, Anchor
My true best friend and partner in life in Cambodia. In bottles, in pints, don't care about buckets unless they're free. This is what i drink every time i am out. I think the flavor is just right. Not too strong like Chang, not too local like San Miguel. If you ask me about the difference of the two, i still don't know what is. Obviously, i was too drunk to notice. 

Outside the genocide museum. I didn't get inside. Instead i walked around and talked to the people. Good 20 minute conversations. Really cool people!
People in front of the palace. I just wanted to a photo of myself, they were at the back, might as well join in the fun in the picture.
Back to the backstreet boys! hehe

7. Don't judge the book by its cover.
Khmer are honest people. I don't know if i just believe in the goodness of people. But people here are very honest, very sincere, very cordial. On one of our tuk-tuk rides, the business was to give the driver $1 because we bartered for a lower price. When i got to my destination, i gave him $1 more. I mean, what is $1 if you take into consideration the effort of these people really working hard for a buck. And western people are richer than me so the next time you go on trips, make sure to show some love to the people who take you to your destinations, the people you buy your souvenirs from. These people are working really hard to give you the best time in their OWN country. Remember we're just visiting.

Nuff said.
8. The past
I didn't go to the tours. Apart from the reason that i was a bit hung over from last night, i didn't want to leave Cambodia with the impression of its horrible past. The people have suffered so much trauma. And i want to remember Cambodia as the land of really friendly and loving people with a not so good past, but with a keen hopeful eye for the future.

Me with the Israeli Army in Angkor Wat Bar.
Me with Cara and Melissa at a bar right across the Angkor Wat Bar. What's the name of the place again? I think the same bar with the Apsara dinner buffet upstairs.
Yaelle and Matthieu from Switzerland while chillin' in Occheutal Beach Sihanoukville.
MM with the local khmer girl doing the threading on her.
Sylvia, Adam, Moneyman Matt at the balcony in an Expat's housewarming party in Phnom Penh.
The Khmer men in the circle in Siem Reap. Bought a cigarette, won a friend. These guys are my best memory of Siem Reap. Friendship knows no boundaries.

9. Friends you meet along the way
People you meet while waiting for the bus to arrive. People you ask questions to where is a good place to go. People you dance with in a club. People you exchange notes on routes and cheaper accommodations. People you tag along with for a cheaper Tuk-tuk ride. People who take care of you when you're in their turf. People who want to give you the best bang in Cambodia. Thanks to all of you. People who are just in the same time and same place as you are. 

Just holler when you drop by Manila, I'll show you what you're really missing. And for sure, i will see you guys again somewhere Again. Cheers and again Thank you so much.

The little kid playing in the Angkor Wat entrance.
The little girl in the Bayon temple.
The little  musician kid selling souvenirs around the complex.
The hip little girl of Sihanoukville
My brothers. hahaha... these are the kids selling lonely planet counterfeit in a pub in Phnom Penh.
the best photo of Khmer kids, i snapped this one out because they were already smiling at me. these kids are so wonderful to look at.

10. Khmer kids
Ever wonder why Angie and Brad adopted kids in Cambodia? The kids here are the sweetest ever; those innocent eyes, those charming smiles. The way they talk and say "Mister, one dolla'" with the loveliest, sweetest accents. The kids who at a very young age needed to work really hard to help their families. Times are tough in this side of the world. And every dollar received will change their future.

Japan's most beautiful city is Nara Prefecture!

ALL-TIME FAVORITE POST FROM 2010 RE-BLOGGED: The ancient capital of Japan in 1710 Heijo era, and a personal favorite of mine, welcome to ( i dare say it) Japan's most beautiful city... Nara! 

I was suppose to go to Nara a day after but i got lost somewhere on my way to Tofukuji which is only a stop away from Kyoto Station. I rode the wrong train, and not an express one but a slow moving public tram. I ended up in Nara after about an hour and found myself weirded about it, but in a good way. Maybe, it was destiny... God wants me to see already Nara's splendor.

Do you believe in love at first sight? I do actually. I did as soon as i got out of the train. Nara is simply beautiful, i'm falling in love all over again as i remember my trip.

With absolutely no idea where to start, i searched for a tourism office or a travel kiosk nearby. It's actually right beside the train station. I always plan my trip the night before i leave, so i wasn't expecting to travel around Nara that day. I approached a fine looking lady and she told me of good places to go to. She mentioned dozens of temples but i was quite curious when she mentioned something about a park where deers freely roam. It perked me to another dimension.

Sarusawa-no-ike pond

Getting to the favorable spots was a breeze. Walk a straight line and you'll reach this spot. It's a very easy 15-20 minute walk where you can make a side trip to some souvenir shops, quaint restaurants and even vintage stores.

Roaming around this pond was as relaxing as it can get. Mind you, Nara beams with high number of tourists all day, so finding your little spot might be tricky. If you look closer you could see carp swimming and tortoise drying their backs in one of those scattered rocks. But for now, i made my way to the other side up the stairs to view the many amazing temples of Kofuku-ji.

The sun was up but the cool temperature made the trip whole lost easier and with a breeze. Reaching the spot will lead you to these ornate shrine. I pondered and watched as monks and locals pay tribute.

Stone carved Jizō structures

Jizo Bodhisattva is a much beloved figure in Japan, Korea, and China, who is just becoming increasingly well known. Jizo is a special protector of children, travelers, and women. Jizo is also known to help those who are working with a life problem or physical affliction.

Kōfuku-ji. Kōfuku-ji

Walking to or from Nara-kōen, you can’t miss the soaring main pagoda of Kōfuku-ji, which was transferred here from Kyoto in 710 as the main temple for the Fujiwara family. Although the original temple complex had 175 buildings, fires and destruction through power struggles have left only a dozen still standing. 

There are actually two pagodas, a three-storey one dating from 1143 and a five-storey pagoda dating from 1426. The taller of the two pagodas is the second tallest in Japan, outclassed by the one at Kyoto’s Tō-ji by only a few centimetres. In the grounds of the temple, Kōfuku-ji National Treasure Hall (Kokuhō-kan; admission ¥500; 9am-4.30pm) contains a variety of statues and art objects salvaged from previous structures

I put back my map and ventured into the unknown. Wherever my steps take me. It took me to one of the greatest places I've ever been to in my stay in Japan. More on that on the next post!

I went back to the pond and walked for a bit, away from the crowd. I found myself passing by quiet streets and narrow alleys. I loomed over the colors of the leaves against the calm residing waters. It was so spectacular. This was an unexpected favorite of mine now.

It was gentle, it was mild... like the echoes of infiniteness. Unexpectedly, i felt i was isolated from the world, where i feel untouched. 

I ended my journey around Nara watching this man wait for tourists who will ride his cyclo. It made me wonder in amazement how places such as Nara still values old traditions, untouched by Western influences. In a country like Japan who's rich and modern, old traditions are still apparent. I love it so much. 

I met an old Japanese couple who both couldn't speak any English. But for about a few minutes, it felt as if I've known them for a long time. And I've realized again and again, kindness is the universal language of the heart! They approached me and wondered if they could take my picture. I've never felt so important in my life. And for that, i will forever be grateful to them! So far, i haven't met a single soul in Japan who has not been kind to me.

Additional text from here and here

In Siquijor, Philippines, A Miracle has Happened to Me

ALL-TIME FAVORITE POST FROM 2011 RE-BLOGGED: I went to Siquijor a day after Christmas. It's that time of the month where offices and schools are closed. People stay at home and spend good times with their loved ones. A part of me wanted to stay home and bond with my family. But a greater part of my being wants  me to head to Siquijor right away. My family would understand.

I've written a story, a few paragraphs actually, about how my trips will change from hereon. I've mentioned my purpose for this particular trip was not just to put a check mark on my must-visit places. I always knew there's something about this trip that i can't afford to miss. A few days after I arrived from Siquijor, i was able to to find the answers to my question.

Life in Siquijor is different. People wake up with a smile. I've seen an old man with his 'bolo' trying to harvest hundreds of sea urchins as early as seven in the morning. Around this time in Manila, traffic should be building up in Edsa. In Siquijor, the number of urchins begin to multiply. I must admit, i got a bit scared with him. The idea of an old-raggedy man and his sun-kissed face and untrimmed mustache with a 'bolo' clutched in his right hand, is a bit terrifying. In the city, run if you should see one. Little by little as he gets nearer, he begins to look up to me with a smile. He bowed his head and i said my greetings. He continued his march to catch some more "Salawaki". 

Music surely fills the air in Siquijor come Christmas time. I've heard that there's a small party by the town hall that night.  About a hundred meters away from where i am are boys practicing their dance routine. These kids are pretty talented, and they've mastered their stunts. I didn't stay long because i didn't want to interrupt their focus.  On another occasion, I was close to sleeping when suddenly, a group of three charming girls approached me and started to sing their version of "We wish you a merry christmas". They weren't focused unlike the boys earlier, and most of the time they were out of tune. But the more they continue on with the song, the more i began to actually listen to them. From their wishes of a merry Christmas, it seemed i had to hear from them what i should have known. In Siquijor, the kids here have trouble going to school. Mostly, if not all, have bigger problems than I have. And at a very young age, they have been exposed to issues that took me longer than expected to understand. 

You will be surprised at how sporty Siquijodnons are. It's funny how private owners have opened their tennis court to people who want to play. In most towns, there's a basketball and tennis court open to the public. A lot of people do come by to sweat it out every afternoon.  

The pair of running shoes which i want to purchase is a little over P5000 or $100. Dry fit running gears are sold in specialty stores for a not so cheap price as well. I remembered stopping for a few minutes in Larena. I heard a whistle coming from the old gymnasium which signaled the start of a basketball match. Two baranggays are competing for the trophy and the honor. The players from the white team didn't have a uniform with them. Some wore  old tank tops, others wore different colored shirts. On the other side, the  players from green team were all dolled up with their emerald green uniforms. As i try to check their kicks, I've realized that these kids have no proper basketball shoes. I saw a really awesome player wearing white loafers.

The many faces of Siquijor gave me a glimpse of the kind of life i knew I've always wanted to know about. Life is good, but life would be better only if you knew what's worse. Contentment is such a hard feeling to grasp most especially when you can afford it. 

We are all guilty of always aiming for what's better, what's newer and what's more exciting. The difference between most of us and the people in Siquijor is that not once from the people that i have talked to, complained about their lives. They are happy as they are. True that, these people also need to aspire for a better life. But sometimes, i ponder on the idea that maybe... we should just be happy with what we have now.

I spotted Lady Gaga in Lang Kwai Fong and i thought this is Hong Kong's Pop Capital

ALL-TIME FAVORITE POST FROM 2010 RE-BLOGGED: Lady Gaga's poster is plastered all over Lang Kwai Fong. Arguably, Hong Kong's most famous district is also the center of shopping, dining and drinking. Whenever i am in Hong Kong, i always make it a point to drop by this spot. It's where the young kids dress up and shop. It's where the expats cheers beer and make merry. It's where the creme de la' creme of Hong Kong social scene converge and show off their latest wears. What can i say? What is Shibuya in Japan is Lang Kwai Fong to Hong Kong!  


My experience in Lang Kwai Fong is truly one of the highlights of my recent trip to Hong Kong. I cannot explain how awesome the experience was. I arrived midday and the sun was up but the coolness of the air was sure enough to make me last long time. I felt really good dressing up because everyone's ridiculously chic and dapper here. I've seen many cool high-schoolers showcasing their latest fashion style. I stopped for a bit to smoke and watch as the youth channel their rock star status. Along with them are a few businessmen  in three-piece suit meeting up with other businessmen. I've seen women rushing for their luncheon in designer ensemble and  half a million worth purses. After having a really tasty lunch at Shakeys (I know...), i walked for more and discovered this uphill strip of shopping delight.

Walking around is a breeze and shopping is a seriously addicting stuff in Lang Kwai Fong. I've seen one of a kind merchandises: from trippy hats, straw belts, quality leather goods and even iPhone and Blackberry accessories. Prices are affordable and competitive. If you decide to stay in Hong Kong Island, you can find the best quality and prices for those cheong sam and key chain souvenirs. For those who are into gadgets, there's a good number of shops selling brand new and second-hand dslrs, cellphones and tablet PCs.

Four floors of shopping delight, H&M flagship store is not to be missed. I've been lucky that whenever i go and shop, a lot of items are on sale so i get the items for cheap. If you should decide to splurge, nearby Elements and Landmark mall will get your fix of the limited edition Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Longchamp, Goyard, YSL and Hong Kong favorite, Shanghai Tang

With an impressive array of merchandises, it's not surprising a lot of expats and visitors call Lang Kwai Fong or LKF, a home away from home. But after an exhausting day of shopping, you don't have to go too far to experience the best of Hong Kong's nightlife! Up next, get drunk, crazy and absolutely seen in LKF!

How to get there:

Lan Kwai Fong: Exit D2, MTR Central station, 5 minutes by foot will lead you to Lan Kwai Fong

SOHO: Take the Central Mid-levels Escalator, follow the road sign.

There's something to Rave about Shopping in Mongkok, Hong Kong

Apart from Lang Kwai Fong, Mongkok is a personal favorite of mine. How can you not like a place where you want to buy everything you see. The goods are well-made, the design is topnotch and the price is affordable. Frequented more by locals, i always think Mongkok deserves its reputation as one of Hong Kong's most favorite shopping destinations. 

Known the world over as Hong Kong's most densely populated area, Mongkok is crowded but beautiful. On my last day in Hong Kong and still eager to buy everyone home a present, this is where i went. I knew that heading to Mongkok for a few hours of shopping is a convenient way of finishing off my check list of goods. 

ALL-TIME FAVORITE POST FROM 2011 RE-BLOGGED: What's nice about Mongkok is that the intersection of Nathan Road and Argyle Street is beyond borders in terms of shopping choices. Whether you fancy buying electronic gadgets - head to Mongkok Computer Center, the latest kicks - head to Sai Yeung Choi, iPhone accessories - Ladies' Market (BlackBerry users - there's not much here), or even just wandering around Langham Place (my favorite mall in Hong Kong), is an experience worthy of a trip. 

I bought three pairs of shoes, a rockin' iPod Touch casing reminiscent of the cassette tape design, and other souvenir goods. 

I remember during my last trip, i've always wanted a black leather jacket. And so i did find it in Mongkok. I skipped and told myself, i shall look for another shop with a cheaper price. I guess, that made me realize one important lesson in shopping and walking around Hong Kong. Because as soon as i arrived at my hotel, i went back to where i was just to purchase this jacket which up until now earns a nod from everyone i know. 

I haven't written this tip before so i will write it here. When buying knick-knacks, i always gravitate towards the convenience store. I bought two big plastic bags of crackers, chips, candies and chocolates. And some of which are buy 1 take 1! Take that! So, always be on the look out for merchandise on sale.

I wanted to write a how to get here, but i guess the only thing you need to remember is the name itself, Mongkok. There's a train station in Mongkok and count 1-50, you're there! Happy Shopping, people!